Investigating the Neural Correlates of Emotion-Cognition Interaction Using an Affective Stroop Task.
ABSTRACT: The human brain has the capacity to integrate various sources of information and continuously adapts our behavior according to situational needs in order to allow a healthy functioning. Emotion-cognition interactions are a key example for such integrative processing. However, the neuronal correlates investigating the effects of emotion on cognition remain to be explored and replication studies are needed. Previous neuroimaging studies have indicated an involvement of emotion and cognition related brain structures including parietal and prefrontal cortices and limbic brain regions. Here, we employed whole brain event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during an affective number Stroop task and aimed at replicating previous findings using an adaptation of an existing task design in 30 healthy young adults. The Stroop task is an indicator of cognitive control and enables the quantification of interference in relation to variations in cognitive load. By the use of emotional primes (negative/neutral) prior to Stroop task performance, an emotional variation is added as well. Behavioral in-scanner data showed that negative primes delayed and disrupted cognitive processing. Trials with high cognitive demand furthermore negatively influenced cognitive control mechanisms. Neuronally, the emotional primes consistently activated emotion-related brain regions (e.g., amygdala, insula, and prefrontal brain regions) while Stroop task performance lead to activations in cognition networks of the brain (prefrontal cortices, superior temporal lobe, and insula). When assessing the effect of emotion on cognition, increased cognitive demand led to decreases in neural activation in response to emotional stimuli (negative > neutral) within prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and insular cortex. Overall, these results suggest that emotional primes significantly impact cognitive performance and increasing cognitive demand leads to reduced neuronal activation in emotion related brain regions, and therefore support previous findings investigating emotion-cognition interaction in healthy adults. Moreover, emotion and cognition seem to be tightly related to each other, as indicated by shared neural networks involved in both of these processes. Emotion processing, cognitive control, and their interaction are crucial for healthy functioning and a lack thereof is related to psychiatric disorders such as, disruptive behavior disorders. Future studies may investigate the neural characteristics of children and adolescents with disruptive behavior disorders.
Project description:Acute exercise consistently benefits both emotion and cognition, particularly cognitive control. We evaluated acute endurance exercise influences on emotion, domain-general cognitive control and the cognitive control of emotion, specifically cognitive reappraisal. Thirty-six endurance runners, defined as running at least 30 miles per week with one weekly run of at least 9 miles (21 female, age 18-30 years) participated. In a repeated measures design, participants walked at 57% age-adjusted maximum heart rate (HRmax; range 51%-63%) and ran at 70% HRmax (range 64%-76%) for 90 min on two separate days. Participants completed measures of emotional state and the Stroop test of domain-general cognitive control before, every 30 min during and 30 min after exercise. Participants also completed a cognitive reappraisal task (CRT) after exercise. Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) tracked changes in oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin (O2Hb and dHb) levels in the prefrontal cortex (PFC). Results suggest that even at relatively moderate intensities, endurance athletes benefit emotionally from running both during and after exercise and task-related PFC oxygenation reductions do not appear to hinder prefrontal-dependent cognitive control.
Project description:Using data from 34 participants who completed an emotion-word Stroop task during functional magnetic resonance imaging, we examined the effects of adult attachment on neural activity associated with top-down cognitive control in the presence of emotional distractors. Individuals with lower levels of secure-base-script knowledge--reflected in an adult's inability to generate narratives in which attachment-related threats are recognized, competent help is provided, and the problem is resolved--demonstrated more activity in prefrontal cortical regions associated with emotion regulation (e.g., right orbitofrontal cortex) and with top-down cognitive control (left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, and superior frontal gyrus). Less efficient performance and related increases in brain activity suggest that insecure attachment involves a vulnerability to distraction by attachment-relevant emotional information and that greater cognitive control is required to attend to task-relevant, nonemotional information. These results contribute to the understanding of mechanisms through which attachment-related experiences may influence developmental adaptation.
Project description:Conduct disorder (CD) is a psychiatric disorder of childhood and adolescence which has been linked to deficient emotion processing and regulation. The behavioral and neuronal correlates targeting the interaction of emotion processing and response inhibition are still under investigation. Whole-brain event-related fMRI was applied during an affective Stroop task in 39 adolescents with CD and 39 typically developing adolescents (TD). Participants were presented with an emotional stimulus (negative/neutral) followed by a Stroop task with varying cognitive load (congruent/incongruent/blank trials). fMRI analysis included standard preprocessing, region of interest analyses (amygdala, insula, ventromedial prefrontal cortex) and whole-brain analyses based on a 2(group) × 2(emotion) × 3(task) full-factorial ANOVA. Adolescents with CD made significantly more errors, while reaction times did not significantly differ compared to TD. Additionally, we observed a lack of downregulation of left amygdala activity in response to incongruent trials and increased anterior insula activity for CD relative to TD during affective Stroop task processing [cluster-level family-wise error-corrected (p < 0.05)]. Even though no three-way interaction (group × emotion × task) interaction was detected, the findings presented still provide evidence for altered neuronal underpinnings of the interaction of emotion processing and response inhibition in CD. Moreover, our results may corroborate previous evidence of emotion dysregulation as a core dysfunction in CD. Future studies shall focus on investigating the interaction of emotion processing and response inhibition in CD subgroups (e.g., variations in callous-unemotional traits, impulsivity, or anxiety).
Project description:The serotonin transporter gene (5-HTTLPR) influences emotional reactivity and attentional bias toward or away from emotional stimuli, and has been implicated in psychopathological states, such as depression and anxiety disorder. The short allele is associated with increased reactivity and attention toward negatively-valenced emotional information, whereas the long allele is associated with increased reactivity and attention toward positively-valenced emotional information. The neural basis for individual differences in the ability to exert cognitive control over these bottom-up biases in emotional reactivity and attention is unknown, an issue investigated in the present study. Healthy adult participants were divided into two groups, either homozygous carriers of the 5-HTTLPR long allele or homozygous carriers of the short allele, and underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while completing an Emotional Stroop-like task that varied in the congruency of task-relevant and task-irrelevant information and the emotional valence of the task-irrelevant information. Behaviorally, participants demonstrated the classic "Stroop effect" (responses were slower for incongruent than congruent trials), which did not differ by 5-HTTLPR genotype. However, fMRI results revealed that genotype influenced the degree to which neural systems were engaged depending on the valence of the conflicting task-irrelevant information. While the "Long" group recruited prefrontal control regions and superior temporal sulcus during conflict when the task-irrelevant information was positively-valenced, the "Short" group recruited these regions during conflict when the task-irrelevant information was negatively-valenced. Thus, participants successfully engaged cognitive control to overcome conflict in an emotional context using similar neural circuitry, but the engagement of this circuitry depended on emotional valence and 5-HTTLPR status. These results suggest that the interplay between emotion and cognition is modulated, in part, by a genetic polymorphism that influences serotonin neurotransmission.
Project description:Among nicotine-dependent smokers, smoking abstinence disrupts multiple cognitive and affective processes including conflict resolution and emotional information processing (EIP). However, the neurobiological basis of abstinence effects on resolving emotional interference on cognition remains largely uncharacterized. In this study, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to investigate smoking abstinence effects on emotion-cognition interactions.Smokers (n?=?17) underwent fMRI while performing an affective Stroop task (aST) over two sessions: once following 24-h abstinence and once following smoking as usual. The aST includes trials that serially present incongruent or congruent numerical grids bracketed by neutral or negative emotional distractors and view-only emotional image trials. Statistical analyses were conducted using a statistical threshold of p?<?0.05 cluster corrected.Smoking abstinence increased Stroop blood-oxygenation-level-dependent response in the right middle frontal and rostral anterior cingulate gyri. Moreover, withdrawal-induced negative affect was associated with less activation in frontoparietal regions during negative emotional information processing; whereas, during Stroop trials, negative affect predicted greater activation in frontal regions during negative, but not neutral emotional distractor trials.Hyperactivation in the frontal executive control network during smoking abstinence may represent a need to recruit additional executive resources to meet task demands. Moreover, abstinence-induced negative affect may disrupt cognitive control neural circuitry during EIP and place additional demands on frontal executive neural resources during cognitive demands when presented with emotionally distracting stimuli.
Project description:Patients with bipolar disorder experience cognitive and emotional impairment that may persist even during the euthymic state of the disease. These persistent symptoms in bipolar patients (BP) may be characterized by disturbances of emotion regulation and related fronto-limbic brain circuitry. The present study aims to investigate the modulation of fronto-limbic activity and connectivity in BP by the processing of emotional conflict.Fourteen euthymic BP and 13 matched healthy subjects (HS) underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while performing a word-face emotional Stroop task designed to dissociate the monitoring/generation of emotional conflict from its resolution. Functional connectivity was determined by means of psychophysiological interaction (PPI) approach.Relative to HS, BP were slower to process incongruent stimuli, reflecting higher amount of behavioral interference during emotional Stroop. Furthermore, BP showed decreased activation of the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) during the monitoring and a lack of bilateral amygdala deactivation during the resolution of the emotional conflict. In addition, during conflict monitoring, BP showed abnormal positive connectivity between the right DLPFC and several regions of the default mode network.Overall, our results highlighted dysfunctional processing of the emotion conflict in euthymic BP that may be subtended by abnormal activity and connectivity of the DLPFC during the conflict monitoring, which, in turn, leads to failure of amygdala deactivation during the resolution of the conflict. Emotional dysregulation in BP may be underpinned by a lack of top-down cognitive control and a difficulty to focus on the task due to persistent self-oriented attention.
Project description:Recent years have witnessed the emergence of powerful new tools for assaying the brain and a remarkable acceleration of research focused on the interplay of emotion and cognition. This work has begun to yield new insights into fundamental questions about the nature of the mind and important clues about the origins of mental illness. In particular, this research demonstrates that stress, anxiety, and other kinds of emotion can profoundly influence key elements of cognition, including selective attention, working memory, and cognitive control. Often, this influence persists beyond the duration of transient emotional challenges, partially reflecting the slower molecular dynamics of catecholamine and hormonal neurochemistry. In turn, circuits involved in attention, executive control, and working memory contribute to the regulation of emotion. The distinction between the 'emotional' and the 'cognitive' brain is fuzzy and context-dependent. Indeed, there is compelling evidence that brain territories and psychological processes commonly associated with cognition, such as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and working memory, play a central role in emotion. Furthermore, putatively emotional and cognitive regions influence one another via a complex web of connections in ways that jointly contribute to adaptive and maladaptive behavior. This work demonstrates that emotion and cognition are deeply interwoven in the fabric of the brain, suggesting that widely held beliefs about the key constituents of 'the emotional brain' and 'the cognitive brain' are fundamentally flawed. We conclude by outlining several strategies for enhancing future research. Developing a deeper understanding of the emotional-cognitive brain is important, not just for understanding the mind but also for elucidating the root causes of its disorders.
Project description:Addiction is characterized by an erosion of cognitive control toward drug taking that is accentuated by negative emotional states. Here we tested the hypothesis that enhanced interference on cognitive control reflects a loss of segregation between cognition and emotion in addiction. We analyzed Human Connectome Project data from 1206 young adults, including 89 with cannabis dependence (CD). Two composite factors, one for cognition and one for emotion, were derived using principal component (PC) analyses. Component scores for these PCs were significantly associated in the CD group, such that negative emotionality correlated with poor cognition. However, the corresponding component scores were uncorrelated in matched controls and nondependent recreational cannabis users (n?=?87). In CD, but not controls or recreational users, functional magnetic resonance imaging activations to emotional stimuli (angry/fearful faces?>?shapes) correlated with activations to cognitive demand (working memory; 2-back?>?0-back). Canonical correlation analyses linked individual differences in cognitive and emotional component scores with brain activations. In CD, there was substantial overlap between cognitive and emotional brain-behavior associations, but in controls, associations were more restricted to the cognitive domain. These findings support our hypothesis of impaired segregation between cognitive and emotional processes in CD that might contribute to poor cognitive control under conditions of increased emotional demand.
Project description:The cognitive bias model of animal welfare assessment is informed by studies with humans demonstrating that the interaction between emotion and cognition can be detected using laboratory tasks. A limitation of cognitive bias tasks is the amount of training required by animals prior to testing. A potential solution is to use biologically relevant stimuli that trigger innate emotional responses. Here; we develop a new method to assess emotion in rhesus macaques; informed by paradigms used with humans: emotional Stroop; visual cueing and; in particular; response slowing. In humans; performance on a simple cognitive task can become impaired when emotional distractor content is displayed. Importantly; responses become slower in anxious individuals in the presence of mild threat; a pattern not seen in non-anxious individuals; who are able to effectively process and disengage from the distractor. Here; we present a proof-of-concept study; demonstrating that rhesus macaques show slowing of responses in a simple touch-screen task when emotional content is introduced; but only when they had recently experienced a presumably stressful veterinary inspection. Our results indicate the presence of a subtle "cognitive freeze" response; the measurement of which may provide a means of identifying negative shifts in emotion in animals.
Project description:OBJECTIVES:Bipolar disorders (BD) are characterized by emotion and cognitive dysregulation. Mapping deficits in the neurocircuitry of cognitive-affective regulation allows for potential identification of intervention targets. This study used functional MRI data in BD patients and healthy controls during performance on a task requiring cognitive and inhibitory control superimposed on affective images, assessing cognitive and affective interference. METHODS:Functional MRI data were collected from 39 BD patients and 36 healthy controls during performance on the Multi-Source Interference Task overlaid on images from the International Affective Picture System (MSIT-IAPS). Analyses examined patterns of activation in a priori regions implicated in cognitive and emotional processing. Functional connectivity to the anterior insula during task performance was also examined, given this region's role in emotion-cognition integration. RESULTS:BD patients showed significantly less activation during cognitive interference trials in inferior parietal lobule, dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, anterior insula, mid-cingulate, and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex regardless of affective valence. BD patients showed deviations in functional connectivity with anterior insula in regions of the default mode and frontoparietal control networks during negatively valenced cognitive interference trials. CONCLUSIONS:Our findings show disruptions in cognitive regulation and inhibitory control in BD patients in the presence of irrelevant affective distractors. Results of this study suggest one pathway to dysregulation in BD is through inefficient integration of affective and cognitive information, and highlight the importance of developing interventions that target emotion-cognition integration in BD.